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The king's champion: re-enacting Arthurian romance at the English coronation banquet

Byrne, A. ORCID: (2013) The king's champion: re-enacting Arthurian romance at the English coronation banquet. English Studies, 94 (5). pp. 505-518. ISSN 1744-4217

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/0013838X.2013.795720


Recent scholarship has emphasised the extent to which historical events are reflected in medieval romance. This paper seeks to draw attention to an instance where that relationship appears to have been inverted and a romance motif was carefully recreated at a particularly important event in the historical world. From the fourteenth century onwards, a mounted knight ceremonially rode into the English coronation banquet and issued a challenge to all assembled. The visual detail of the ritual strikingly echoes that of the romance motif of the “intruder at the feast”. This motif crops up in numerous romances, and is particularly associated with Arthurian narratives where it usually serves as a catalyst for adventure, providing the court and the king with an opportunity to justify their authority and reputation. This paper analyses the precise nature of the historical ritual and explores how the romance resonances of the ceremony at the coronation feast could be used to underpin political authority and courtly identity. In doing so, it seeks to underscore the centrality of Arthurian romance to English monarchical self-imagining and the symbolic power which could be ascribed to the genre's themes and conventions.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Graduate Centre for Medieval Studies (GCMS)
Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Literature and Languages > English Literature
ID Code:52243
Publisher:Taylor & Francis

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